I have been wanting to make my own breads for a while, and must admit that I am a little bit intimidated by the whole process. I always assumed that bread making usually takes so much time, and requires a lot of kneading, which I am not very excited about. I have made bread in the past before using a bread machine, but that was way back in college. I can’t even recall what recipe I used, and so I began my hunt for a simple bread recipe that I could try with a high possibility for success (I figured if I failed in my first attempt, I *might* get discouraged in the future).
I quickly landed on this recipe, another one from one of the Barefoot Contessa books. This recipe claims that it doesn’t require any kneading although it needs to sit overnight, therefore you need to plan for it. I thought okay, this sounds too good to be true. I must say though that this recipe truly delivered on its promise: it was easy to make & does not require kneading. It just takes time , so I had to plan for it a little bit–and I didn’t have any problem with waiting (well, not for this one–but I normally would). The reward of having this freshly baked good out of the oven was worth the time I waited for the dough to be ready. I even enjoyed the process of waiting for this bread to be prepared.. I love the smell of the dough as it was mixed in the mixer (Red told me that it reminded him of a brewery… well, I was thinking more of a bakery, but okay, I got his points… yeast + wheat= beers! Got it). Then finally when it was baking in the oven, the wonderful aroma of this bread completely filled the house.
I was finally rewarded with a slice of this warm bread with soft texture in the inside and a crunchy skin on the outside. This one was a keeper–and I will make it again in the future!
Adapted from Barefoot in Paris
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 120 degrees F)
1 package dried yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
4 -1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk for egg wash
Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (If the bowl is cold, start with warmer water so it’s at least 110 degrees when you add the yeast.) Mix with your hands and allow to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast and sugar dissolve. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, add 2 cups of the flour and the salt and mix for 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low, add 2 1/4 more cups of flour and mix for 5 more minutes. Scrape the dough into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Grease two 8-1/2 X 4-1/2 X 2-1/2 loaf pans. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and cut in half. Pat each portion into a 6×8-inch rectangle, then roll up each rectangle into a cylindrical loaf. Place each loaf, seam side down, into a greased pan. Cover the pans with a damp towel and we set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. When the rolls have risen, brush the top of each with the egg wash and bake for 45 minutes, or until the tops spring back and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Turn the loaves out onto a wire rack to cool.